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BT time capsule buried 58 years ago found in London

Press Release   •   Nov 08, 2016 12:06 GMT

Dave Shawyer, BT's technology heritage manager with time capsule

A BT time capsule buried 58 years ago has been unearthed during redevelopment at the site of a former BT building.

The contents offer a fascinating insight into the telecoms technology of the era, and how far it has evolved.

Items inside the capsule include a 700-type telephone handset, a polythene-covered subscribers’ cable that reduced corrosion, a Telex-answerback unit that lessened the risk of messages being misrouted and a 3000-type standard relay used in telephone exchanges of the era.

The brass capsule was buried on 20 October 1958 by Lord Mayor of London Sir Denis Truscott beneath the foundation stone of BT’s Fleet Building in Islington, London.

Developers handed the capsule to Openreach, BT’s local network business, and it is now held in the BT Archives.

Joanna Smith, an Openreach network regulation manager, BT’s local network business, said: “The BT Fleet Building has been demolished to make way for a new occupier. We’ve been working closely with the developers and were glad to hear that they found the time capsule.”

David Hay, BT’s head of heritage and archives, said: “We were delighted to receive the time capsule. We knew about the capsule and wondered whether it would turn up during the redevelopment. It’s great to have the capsule in the BT archives. The contents look as pristine as when they were put in it, probably because it was filled with nitrogen gas before being sealed. And they really bring home how far our technology has advanced in the past 58 years.”

1958

  • The year Harold Macmillan was prime minister
  • The London Planetarium opens, the first in Britain
  • The Eurovision Song Contest was in its third year
  • The film South Pacific was released
  • Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 to win the football World Cup
  • Elvis Presley topped the charts with Jailhouse Rock

BT’s heritage

BT is the world's oldest and most established communications company. Our roots extend back to the UK's Electric Telegraph Company, incorporated in 1846 as the world's first national telecommunications provider. This summer we celebrate our 170th anniversary. Few companies in the world have a heritage as rich as BT www.bt.com/history . BT’s Archives have been recognised by UNESCO and Arts Council England as having unique significance to the UK’s cultural heritage.

BT has always acknowledged that we have a duty of care to safeguard this unique legacy on behalf of the nation. BT is the only UK plc to give a firm and clear heritage commitment with a published Heritage Policy www.bt.com/heritage

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com